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SA

Far fewer home invasions

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NICOLA MILTZ

The latest national crime statistics released two weeks ago paint a grim picture of the reality of crime in the country, with the number of murders climbing to the highest level in a decade. Statistics also show a rise in major crimes such as sexual assault and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

However according to Sean Jammy, the chief operating officer of Community Active Protection (CAP), serious and violent crimes are down 29% in the Gauteng areas covered by the community-driven, non-profit security organisation.

“Throughout CAP’s footprint, we have seen a year-on-year drop in serious violent crime,” he said. “Home invasions are down massively.” A home invasion is classified as a contact crime where a victim or victims are confronted by an armed robber at home.

“CAP has had great success working with the police in affected areas to bring suspects to justice.”

Areas throughout Johannesburg including places like Emmarentia, Greenside, and Bryanston, have reduced home-invasion statistics, Jammy said. Waverley and Savoy were particularly hard hit by home invasions in the past, but there have been none this year so far.

He attributed the improvement to the “deactivation” of three specific gangs.

The perception exists that crime has increased, Jammy said, but this is largely due to national crime statistics and the number of neighbourhood WhatsApp groups reporting crime. Often this crime is not placed in context, or is reported as an armed robbery when in fact it is a burglary, Jammy said.

He said there had been an increase in targeted follow-home crimes. An example of this type of crime is the so-called Rolex gang, who follow a victim home from a shopping mall after being alerted by a scout. “The scout looks for people with expensive jewellery, and then alerts a crew to follow the victim to a place convenient for an attack,” he said.

In the past six months, there has also been an increase in opportunistic follow-home crimes in which a criminal crew spots a victim, usually driving a high-end vehicle, in the traffic and follows them to their destination on the assumption that the driver will have expensive items worth stealing. “This is a new category of follow-home crime we are seeing,” Jammy said.

He encouraged people to not wear expensive jewellery, and to be more moderate about the vehicles they drive.

“The impact of the violent crime is far more severe than the enjoyment of driving the vehicle in the first place,” he said.

There has been an increase in public armed robberies in these areas, particularly affecting domestic workers who are held up for their cell phones in public places. It also affects people waiting outside for taxis.

“A perpetrator sees a person waiting in the street. Often they are on their phone and are caught off guard when their phone is yanked from them, and the perpetrator quickly disappears. This type of crime has become more prevalent because of the advent of Uber, and people’s behaviour when waiting,” he said.

He urged those waiting outside for lifts to use common sense and stay off their phones. They should also wait inside the gate if possible.

Jammy said there had been a measurable increase in home burglaries, specifically homes with a weak physical security presence. “Burglaries are easier to protect [yourself] against, whereas a follow home is a more complex crime and more difficult to secure yourself against. A burglary is simpler [to protect against] – have an alarm system and activate it at night.”

He urged people living in townhouse and cluster complexes not to become complacent. Burglaries still take place even though people feel safer because of security guards and electric fencing.

Jammy emphasised that it is imperative to have a good alarm system, and to check it regularly to make sure that it works.

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